February 2016

In celebration of machine Number 8

If you ever wondered just how tough our legendary Kawasaki Wheel Loaders are, then you really need to read on to find out why they are widely regarded as the toughest of their type in the world.

To fleet managers the big Kawasaki ZV90 wheel loader working for GaNala Plant Hire is just a number, one of a fleet of 19 similar loaders on hire to power stations and mines in the Mpumalanga region.

But to Christo Venter, GaNala Plant Hire founder, the machine means so much more as the machine that started his business and whose powerful frame has carried so much of the workload of his growing operation. Even despite clocking more than 72 000 hours of back-breaking production work, No 8 is still working as hard as ever fulfilling round-the-clock production duties at Black Wattle Colliery and to Christo’s delight is showing no signs of slowing down.

He says that No 8 has been a stalwart that has worked on numerous different sites loading everything from chrome, to rock, coal and anything else required. Thanks to its work rate, reliability, fuel consumption and high levels of support received from equipment supplier, ELB Equipment, it has spurred him on to standardise his entire loader fleet on Kawasaki’s.

Loading experts

Christo continues, “As loading specialists we supply services mostly for mines and Eskom power plants. Due to the mission-critical nature of these operations we cannot afford downtime and as a result require the most reliable machines for the job that can deliver the highest possible levels of availability around the clock.

“In my years of experience Kawasaki loaders have proven to be the best machines for production loading and our fleet of 19 machines including No 8 have seldom let us down.

“Apart from work rate and reliability I have also found that the machines use up to 10 litres of diesel less per hour than comparable machines from other premium brand manufacturers. What’s more we receive complete support from ELB Equipment with the Middelburg and JHB branch staff always available to us when we need them or, if we need head office expertise, it is just a call away.”

Silo collapse

Perhaps the company’s proudest moment came in a time of crisis last year, with the collapse of the main coal silo at Majuba Power Station. GaNala Plant Hire was called upon to supply nine loaders equipped with 6m³ buckets to load the massive coal feeders that supply the stations’ six giant turbines.

Where high volume conveyors had supplied the station, the loading work would have to be carried out by the loaders until an alternative arrangement could be made. The loss of just one machine for just two hours would have been sufficient to shut the power plant down so required utmost commitment from the part of the loading crew.

“We worked hard and to the credit of all of us we managed to keep the lights on. Once again, No 8 was at the forefront of our efforts and leading from the front as has been the case for all these years. But, at least, No 8’s time with us is not done!

More to come

“We have just completed its third life rebuild and judging by the soundness of the frame and main components am expecting to get at least another 20 000 hours of production work out of this old guy. I estimated that it has already loaded more than 20 million tons of materials in its time and by the time it gets retired I imagine this figure will be closer to 30 million. Our younger machines are also clocking up the hours with many of them already clocking over 30 000 hours and remaining reliable – just like No 8,” says Christo.

He concludes that as the third generation of a ‘plant equipment family’ the Kawasaki machines represent the best of engineering to be tough, reliable, economical and easy to maintain. “As a qualified mechanic, it is simple to see why the machines are so successful. In partnership with the team from ELB Equipment we plan to keep growing the business and procuring the right Kawasaki machines to take our operation forward.”